Freo's View

WHAT IS GOOD TASTE IN BUILDING DESIGN?

 

I think all of us who often complain about the mediocre new architecture we are getting in Fremantle should be delighted that the new DESIGN WA guidelines will apply from today on, but I am quite skeptical about the impact it will have, because good design is like good taste. It is very personal and hard to quantify.

Often when I have slammed the design of buildings others have commented they liked what I believed was atrocious architecture, so why would expert panels be any different in their different taste and preferences? Who dictates what good taste and good design is?

The new DESIGN WA guidelines are all about aesthetics and a review panel of 50 people will decide which planning proposal is in good taste and which one is not. The design review panel comprises of people from architecture, urban design, planning, and landscape architects plus more from heritage, public health, sustainability and engineering. It will be near impossible to reach consensus in such a big group I fear, so Chair Geoff Warn, who is the WA Government Architect, will have a big job ahead of him.

DESIGN WA has got rid of the controversial R-Code system applied up to now, so I wonder if Fremantle and other local councils will also do that. I’ll ask the Fremantle Planning Department if changes will be made in that regard.

I believe that our cities and communities deserve much better design than what we largely have been getting lately, especially for substantial apartment and office buildings. Retaining the tree canopy or providing significant numbers of trees and plants and creating much better streetscapes an public realm will be a very positive step forward. Let’s hope it can all be realised.

Roel Loopers

LET’S TALK FREO UP!

 

Those people who constantly hammer Fremantle Council with criticism about vacant shops, homeless people, anti social behaviour and crime would do well to pay attention to recent media reports.

Shops, cafes and restaurants in Mount Lawley along once extremely popular Beaufort Street are closing in large numbers and they blame high rents and a drop in foot traffic for that.

The decline in retail is happening all over metropolitan Perth, Australia and the world as the traditional high street shopping destinations have been replaced with huge suburban shopping centres on the outskirts.

Media reports about excessive shop lifting and anti social behaviour in Cockburn, Rockingham, Canning, etc have become common, and the West Australian dedicated two pages of their weekend edition on the issues of homelessness in the Perth CBD.

There are no easy solutions for any of these problems and the call from traders for councils to demand that property owners charge lower rents is as unrealistic as it would be unlawful. Governments can not dictate what rents property owners can charge and while high rents in the present retail climate appear almost indecent and selfish there is very little local or state governments can do about it.

Some owners are better and allow pop-up shops to fill vacant shops, but only for a very limited time, so that is only a short-term ‘solution’.

Crime and anti social  behaviour are State responsibility and while Fremantle and most councils do have their own very good security officers they are often powerless as they do not have the right to issue move-on notices or arrest people.

There is no doubt though that the perception of not feeling safe will keep people away. Foot traffic numbers in the Cappuccino Strip have dropped dramatically while they have increased quite a bit in High Street in the West End. The latter is probably mainly due to Notre Dame University students pounding the pavement.

It is always strange to notice on busy Freo weekends how many people are walking along South Terrace but when I turn into High Street the street is nearly void of pedestrians.  Visitors seem to prefer Collie and Essex streets for their East West movement and ignore the far more attractive historic High Street.  Why is that, I wonder?

A prominent Freo business owner urged me last week to promote that we collectively stop talking our city down and that we have to start telling ourselves and our visitors how special Fremantle is.

Only yesterday at the Roundhouse two German tourists told me how much they liked Freo and how friendly people here are, and the volunteer guides hear those kind of remarks very often. We receive so much positive feedback from overseas and interstate visitors that it is hard to believe that some Fremantle residents and traders here have such a negative opinion about our gorgeous little city.

Freo is a great place but like most other suburbs has similar problems and struggles with the retail economy,  anti social behaviour and crime. Attracting more visitors to Freo will partly help with that, and that can only be achieved by not talking our city down, but by talking it up. Let’s give it a try!

Roel Loopers

 

HERITAGE PRESERVATION IS NOT OPTIONAL BUT OUR DUTY

 

round house- arthur head

 

Fremantle’s Ordinary Council meeting this evening decided to try to get State and Federal funding for the stabilisation of historic Arthur’s Head. Estimated cost for the preservation work are $ 1.8 million, plus $ 500.000-1million for renovations to the Roundhouse.

1. Endorse the Arthur Head design and documentation package as detailed in the Arthur Head Cliff Stabilisation Final Report, provided in Attachment 1 of this report in the Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee Agenda (10 April 2019).
2. Request the City proceed with referring details of the proposed works to the relevant state government agencies under public works procedures and obtaining all necessary statutory approvals.
3. Request the City seek State and Federal funding in order to progress the required remediation projects.
4. Request the City investigate the impact of vibrations from trains to the topography and buildings at Arthur Head.

I believe this is not far-reaching enough as the City of Fremantle should lobby the State and Federal Governments for ongoing annual financial support to preserve one of Western Australia’s most significant historic precincts.

As French President Emannuel Marcon said yesterday after the Notre Dame cathedral fire “We owe is to our history to preserve it.” And as I said to the Elected Members today that is not optional but a duty we have.

I also pointed out that the Roundhouse is the only one of the four Fremantle museums: Shipwreck Museum, Maritime Museum and Fremantle Prison that does not get any funding, not from the City, not from the WA Government and not from the Federal Government. That is not fair and reasonable.

The oldest public building in Western Australia welcomes around 140.000 international and national visitors a year, but is managed by mainly senior volunteers. Just 30 of them keep the Roundhouse open 363 days a year and fire the 1pm cannon.

The Roundhouse needs and deserves much more support from the City of Fremantle and State Government and it needs to happen as a priority!

Roel Loopers

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TODAY TONIGHT FILMING ARTHUR’S HEAD NEGLECT

 

 

A team from Channel Seven-Today Tonight spent most of the morning in Fremantle to film a story about the neglect of historic Arthur’s Head and WAs oldest public building the Roundhouse.

They interviewed a structural engineer about stabilisation solutions for the rockfall problem and a Roundhouse tourguide about the historic significance of the area.

It will be screened tomorrow, Wednesday at 6.30pm so make sure to watch it, and hopefully WA State politicians will watch it as well and put their hands in their pockets and fund the essential maintenance and repairs as a priority.

Send an email to Heritage Minister David Templeman, Premier Mark McGowan, Tourism Minister Paul Papalia and Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk, and urge them to preserve one of Western Australia’s most significant historic precincts!

Roel Loopers

MINISTER DOES NOT WANT FREMANTLE ABORIGINAL CENTRE

 

Roundhouse

 

I rest my case about the WA State Government being Perth-centric. The West Australian today published an “exclusive” by Peter de Kruijff about the money needed to maintain the Fremantle Roundhouse and historic Arthur’s Head and that the City of Fremantle wants to do a feasibility study for the creation of an Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Bathers Beach.

But Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt hits that straight on the head by stating that an Aborigonal Cultural Centre should be as close to the centre of Perth as feasible. Why?

Fremantle was the first point of contact between the Whadjuk Noongar people and the British settlers and surely the second city in Western Australia deserves a new tourist attraction, when Perth got Elizabeth Quay, the new WA Museum, the Burswood Stadium, etc.

The question now is if Fremantle should be spending $ 50,000 on a feasibility study when it appears unlikely they will get financial support from the State Government, and two Aboriginal centres would probably not a good idea either.

I would love to see a significant Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Freo, but the City is financially not doing well at all, so should they spend $ 50,000 of ratepayers money for something that is unlikely to be built in Fremantle?

Roel Loopers

 

ARE FREIGHT TRAINS SHAKING HISTORIC ARTHUR’S HEAD INTO OBLIVION?

Posted in arthur head, city of fremantle, heritage, local government, tourism, Uncategorized by freoview on April 11, 2019

 

Fremantle’s historic Arthur’s Head was on the agenda of Wednesday’s FPOL Committee of Fremantle Council. The place is fallen apart and lacks proper maintenance and for nearly a year City officers and expert consultants have looked into how the limestone cliff face can be repaired and stabilised.

The officer’s report recommends several options, but it was unbelievable to hear that no investigation has taken place to see what impact the vibrations of the heavier, longer and more frequent container freight trains have on the cliff face, Whalers Tunnel and surroundings.

It seems strange to a layman like me that one offers solutions without understanding the cause of the problem, and I wasn’t the only one who questioned that.

There was however surprisingly little debate about the matter that will come before full council in a few weeks.

Roel Loopers

 

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MELVILLE WAVE PARK REJECTION SIMILAR TO FREO’S J SHED TAVERN

 

The rejection by the State Government of the proposed wave park in the City of Melville is a huge win for the community there and has a lot in common with the State’s rejection of the planned tavern at J Shed on Fremantle’s Bathers Beach.

It is quite intriguing to notice that both local councils approved the controversial plans against huge community opposition and outrage and that even the community votes at special electors meetings were ignored.

One has to wonder also about the proposed location of a wave park in Melville that is just a 20-minute drive to Fremantle beaches. From memory there has even been an application for a small wave park near Port Beach, which makes even less sense.

It is nice to notice that the planning approval process, that is often criticised, worked well in both instances and that inappropriate uses of crown land were rejected by the State.

Roel Loopers

NOMINATIONS FOR HERITAGE COUNCIL

 

Heritage Minister David Templeman today announced nominations are being sought from experienced and qualified individuals to become members of the Heritage Council of Western Australia.

As the State Government’s expert body on heritage matters, the Heritage Council plays a key role in decisions on entries into the State Register of Heritage Places and the development of these places. It also determines State Heritage strategy and policies.

High calibre women and men from a diversity of fields and backgrounds with relevant skills and experience are strongly encouraged to express their interest in this rewarding opportunity.

The Heritage Act 2018 sets out criteria that must be met in terms of skills and expertise, moving away from the previous Act’s requirement that council members represent certain interests or groups.

The McGowan Government is committed to gender parity across government boards and committees.

More details on membership requirements and the process for nominating can be found on the Heritage Council’s website at http://www.stateheritage.wa.gov.au

Application packages are also available through the Heritage Council’s website or by contacting the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage on (08) 6551 8002.

Applications close on May 3, 2019.

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FREMANTLE PORT AT CAPACITY?

Posted in city of fremantle, containers, freight, fremantle ports, maritime, Uncategorized by freoview on March 25, 2019

 

Port

 

It is no secret that I love Freo’s working port, so I drive onto the South Mole at least once a day. I have noticed that, like this Monday morning, the port has been empty of container ships a few times during the last three months, so what is all the talk about that Fremantle Port is reaching its capacity?

There is a lot of discussion going on about the future of our port, and I agree that better solutions meed to be found to get freight in and out of the port, so a new bridge would be a start and more freight on rail, and no more empty trucks from and to the port.

Somewhere in it all there needs to be some relief for North Fremantle residents, so hopefully the Westport Taskforce will come up with solid recommendations to the State Government.

Roel Loopers

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